Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

You belong to the Body of Christ here in Charlottesville, VA., with the name “First United Methodist Church”. I have been appointed to serve as your pastor in this place and at this time. I will give my very best to honor the mission and ministry you have been faithful to for generations. I also come to help guide this congregation in faithful witness to the way of Jesus in a complex and conflicted social, political and religious environment.

Methodist Christians believe that our relationship with God, with society and with each other, is best lived out in disciplined, resilient and compassionate discipleship. We have faithfully served God and God’s people across the generations and across the globe. We will continue to do so in 2018 and beyond.

It is clear to me that the Charlottesville community finds itself in the spotlight of our nation’s current struggle with cultural and racial disconnection. I have been informed that on Sunday, August 12, we may find it difficult to access our church for worship. Therefore, Reverend Woodson, Reverend Lewis and I will be leading worship at 9:00am and 11:00am in the sanctuary of the Hinton Avenue United Methodist Church located at 750 Hinton Avenue in Charlottesville. Please make every effort to attend worship as we will offer special prayers for the Charlottesville community and receive an offering for Central Virginia Trauma Recovery Network. In addition, the service will be live-steamed on our Facebook page.

I had originally invited Mayor Sherman P. Lea, Sr., of Roanoke to be our guest speaker on this Sunday, but now it appears more prudent to have him come on Sunday, August 5. He will bring a message of civic and religious transformation to which I hope you will invite your friends and neighbors.

Perhaps you wish that these arrangements were unnecessary, that our church could have avoided the disruption and inconvenience of these times. However, these are the times we are given, and we will be faithful to witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ in current events and into the future.

My greatest joy in the ministry is to help connect and re-connect people to the Love of God in Jesus Christ.  I ask you to share in this ministry as together we live out God’s call on First United Methodist Church to make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Gary Heaton
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